There are two schools of thought in this world: “Things don’t matter…people matter” and the opposite way of seeing it is “Things matter.”
I believe that people matter, but I also believe that things can represent memories and experiences that bring joy to our hearts. The reason this came to mind is that a dear college friend gave me a heart-shaped, jeweled mirror that I keep in my office drawer. I went to reach for it to check my lipstick application and a flood of memories of my sweet friend filled my consciousness. I felt happy!
I have friends who would throw away, give away, or sell every possession they own; whereas I (and a few other friends) keep everything due to the memories associated with the items.
Recently I was sorting through old photos, of which I have so, so many. To be honest, many of the photos in my collection aren’t even mine. They belonged to my aunt, mom, dad, and maybe even grandmom. The reality that many of these photos are from my mom’s and aunt’s former students (names unknown) came to mind. I would gladly give them to family members, but there are hundreds. Where would I even start, especially since I don’t know in what schools they taught the students?
I looked online for inspiration on how to curate a printed photo collection. The advice provided consisted of keeping the best three or ten photos from each year.
Seriously!?! Is that the best advice? I have more than ten photos from a nice dinner out on Saturday night.
I realize that those who inherit my estate won’t care about the lovely meals I enjoyed, but I like to keep them as a reference for future meals, conversations, and inspiration.
I guess the bigger question comes down to what remnants do we want to leave from this life? For many of my deceased family members, the remnants amount to a plastic tub filled with memorabilia from events, trips, and happenings that occurred before I was born. I hate to think that that is all that a life lived has to show for it.
My collection has some really cool items! I have a campaign poster and nameplate for my great-grandfather who was a judge in Borger Texas. I also have some memorabilia pieces that my grandfather sent home to my grandmother in WWI. I can’t imagine these items being thrown out!
In lieu of a better idea, the tub system seems to work. I have one for each family member or married couple. In it are photos, letters, graduation diplomas, and artifacts such as glasses, scarves, or nameplates. Although I would need a museum to keep all these items on display, when I miss someone, I do enjoy getting out their tub and reliving the memories. I feel as I grow older and my memory fades (even more!), that these tubs will be a welcome reminder of the folks I love so dearly.
So which school of thought are you? Throw it all away or hang on to your grandmom’s wallet just as it was?
By the way, I do love to display some of the family artifacts. I try to frame one item (not necessarily a photo) of each of my loved ones and display them on a gallery wall or around my home or office. I try to select something that reflects the person. Of course, for some relatives, I only have one item, such as my grandfather Price’s necktie.
To each frame, I have a gold plate added with a title. On the back of the frame, I write any details I know about the item or the owner, such as dates of death and birth, etc. This will hopefully help my nephew sort through things faster.
A year or so before my aunt passed away, we started adding names to old photo albums so that I would know more about each picture. Sadly, we did not finish all the old photos.
Do you have any suggestions for storing printed photos?
Clear storage tubs (look for a better price!): https://amzn.to/3MRobgu
Under bed storage tubs: https://amzn.to/3MOaKOh
Brother label maker: https://amzn.to/3wJYBUL
Tape roller (I tape over the label to make sure they don’t fall off): https://amzn.to/3GfRRRT
Favorite type of photo album/scrapbook: https://amzn.to/3MHbHb3
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